Staying prepared in cold weather; how cold temperatures affect airport workers

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Subzero temperatures are hard on a lot of things. However, some people’s jobs require them to embrace the cold to help people travel safely.

Winter in Wisconsin requires a different kind of patience and preparation. It can also be extremely dangerous. Officials at Tri-State Ambulance say people need to take these temperatures seriously.

“The biggest thing you want to do is layer up,” said Kent Stein, operations manager for Tri-State Ambulance. “Wind chill is not only a feeling it does make a difference.”

It only takes 10-15 minutes for a person to get frostbite or hypothermia when temperatures dip to this level.

“Frostnip is kind of the first stage,” Stein said. It’s that numbing feeling. If you get redness in your extremities and you start to lose feeling in your hands get out of the cold.”

There are some people like Anderson Ott whose job requires a different mindset for these midwest winters.

“But it comes with the job. It’s not too bad,” Ott said. “It’s better than summer.”

Ott’s team and other airline crews are tasked with getting passengers to their destination safely despite the weather conditions.

“Things get fragile when it’s this cold,” Ott said.

However, the aircraft are actually used to these temperatures.

“It’s this cold and colder up at their cruising altitude,” Ott said.

He said their ground equipment is what experiences the most issues.

“It’s just like any other vehicle,” Ott said.

Ott said colder weather actually makes snow removal easier.

“The snow is lighter,” he said.

These men and women are up before sunrise, sometimes at two or three in the morning.”

Ott said they don’t mind because the sky isn’t the limit. Their goal is getting passengers back on the ground.

“Sometimes I can’t feel my face, but it’s not bad,” Ott said. “I actually prefer winter over summer. I don’t mind this kind of weather.”

Officials say they will deice the aircraft if they have ice on them. Flights can also be delayed if winter storms get to a point where flying is too dangerous.